Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Being charitable is good for humanity … and your health

Paul Anderson is only one example of a strong man who focused on giving to others.

We started this site in Nov. 2009 and this post is number #580. (These are all accessible in our archives on the right)That's a lot of information over a 5 year period. I don't know of many other sites that have been able to sustain such a consistent flow of information over such an extended time period.
 Some of the posts have been excellent and even ground breaking in a few cases. Some have been re-posted and published on other sites and magazines. Of course the majority of the posts have not been so exciting, but hopefully are interesting and educational. 
We have allowed ourselves to incorporate information from a wide variety of sources dealing with the health of the total being. Trying to stay true to our original intent of bringing back the Warrior ways, we have had posts on hard core training and lifting, nutrition, profiles of great individuals, some things about the Warrior attitude in the 21st century,and the general benefits of exercise. 
This post is not about training, yet fits our mission of promoting the Warrior way. A Warrior is a protector and provider. According to this article, there is evidence that this is also good for our health.

Being charitable is good for humanity … and your health
By Deborah Sutton For the Deseret News
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 28 2014 7:00 a.m. MDT

     While there are skeptics, there is evidence that giving money to a good cause kindles a pleasure center in the brain and enhances overall emotional well-being.
Ingredients for a healthier body are less pizza takeout, kale smoothies, a regular gym routine, going to bed early and — giving to charity.

In a new study in the Journal of Economic Psychology (pay wall), economist Bariş Yörük finds that charitable giving is correlated with better overall health and specifically reduces the probability of being diagnosed with high blood pressure, lung disease and arthritis.

In addition, Yörük suggests that increasing tax reductions for "charitable giving not only would increase the amount of charitable donations but also may positively affect the health status of the individuals in the United States."

While some experts are skeptical about the direct causal link between charitable giving and good health, there is evidence that giving money to a good cause kindles a pleasure center in the brain and enhances overall emotional well-being — even longer-life expectancy for older people.

Yet, some experts caution charities against touting health benefits to attract donors. They theorize that when donors replace selfless reasons for giving with selfish reasons, their giving decreases.

“If (charities) tell people to donate because it will help their health, this might lower their (altruistic) motivations for donating," says Sara Konrath, a social psychologist at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Health benefits of giving

Yörük, a professor of economics at the University of Albany, finds the irrational behavior of “people giving away a considerable fraction of their hard-earned income for the benefit of complete strangers quite interesting.”

Convinced that there must be a return on giving, Yörük delved into stacks of household survey data from the University of Michigan's Panel Study of Income.

Yörük collected information on household giving patterns and self-reported health status. He tested whether or not charitable giving is correlated with better overall health and specific major health problems. In his study, he controlled for income, gender, marital status and age to avoid ambiguous results.

He found that those who give, on average, score a point higher on the five-point health index and are less likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, lung disease and arthritis.

According to his research, among people who do not give to charity, 4.9 percent reported having poor health and 20.5 percent reported having excellent health. And among those who give: only 0.8 percent reported having poor health, while 36.6 percent reported excellent health.

While his research does not imply causation, Yörük found a chain reaction of tax subsidies predicting charitable giving and charitable giving predicting health status.

Yörük is not alone in discovering correlations between good health and giving.

A University of Oregon research team found voluntary giving ignites neural activity in a pleasure center of the brain — the same region that is stimulated by cocaine, appealing art, attractive faces and photos of loved ones, according to MRI testing by William Harbaugh, Ulrich Mayr and Dan Burghart (pay wall).

Konrath and her colleague Stephanie Brown report other correlational studies that associated positive health outcomes with giving to others. They confirm that “signals of good health such as lower blood pressure and lower viral loads, and ultimately, a significantly lower risk of mortality in older adults or chronically ill patients” arise in charitable patients.

A 1988 study (pay wall) revealed that generosity enhances the immune system. Just thinking about “generosity significantly increases the protective antibody salivary immunoglobulin A, a protein used by the immune system,” says researchers David McClelland and Carol Kirshnit.

And not giving can have adverse effects. “Keeping money instead of giving to others increases the level of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress and low level of blood (glucose),” says researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Margaret Hanson, and Claire Ashton-James.

But Konrath advises that the benefits of giving are more complex than simple correlations.

There could be any number of reasons why people who give also have better health. Perhaps it is personality. Perhaps it is religious values. Perhaps it is not givers who become healthier but healthy people who become charitable. If you are healthy, then you have more disposable income and are generally better situated to give, she says.

What it means for nonprofits

Yörük says he hopes nonprofits and fundraisers use this research to promote more charitable giving and volunteering.

Scott Schenkelberg, the president and CEO of Miriam’s Kitchen, a supportive housing program that feeds and assists the homeless in Washington, D.C., says the research makes sense. “People are better off when they share,” he says. “When you give of your time and resources, I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t be psychologically and therefore psychically better.”

Schenkelberg says organizations like Miriam’s Kitchen should implement these findings as a rational appeal to donors. It’s a good thing “if you can reinforce to people that being generous of your time and money is not only beneficial to the organizations that you like, but also to your own health,” he says.

Having a self-interest in giving is what James Andreoni, an economics professor at the University of California San Diego, calls “impure altruism.” But that's OK. He told the New York Times that all giving has a caveat of self-interest, where it's personal pleasure or “helper’s high,” feeling noble and socially responsible, or seeming more sexually attractive to your date as the British Journal of Psychology asserts.

Konrath disagrees. Some people are compelled to give by true altruism, she says. And over-justifying reasons to give could have adverse consequences, reports a Harvard Business School study.

When people start to give for selfish reasons, the self-interested incentives begin to crowd out the altruistic incentives. “As a result, helping behavior may increase in the short term as people seek benefits, but decrease in the long-term as people’s inherent interest in the welfare of others declines," the Harvard study found.

In addition, if people give to get something back, they likely “won’t experience the same health benefits,” says Konrath.

Spillover effects

Yörük concludes his study by arguing for larger tax breaks for charitable giving as a way to improve overall health. Research shows “that charitable giving is very responsive to tax subsidies,” he says. And his research “suggests that further expansions in the subsidy to charitable giving not only would increase the amount of charitable donations but also may positively affect the health status of the individuals in the United States.”

Not so fast, says Konrath. “We don’t actually know what is causing the change in health,” so it is too early to make a leap toward increasing tax subsidies, she says.

Coming from the nonprofit sector, Schenkelberg is also hesitant to raise tax subsidies for charitable giving. Increasing tax benefits may motivate people to give more, but it could also tear a hole in the tax base the government uses to help the disenfranchised, he argues.

Government subsidies are especially important in aiding the homeless. “The private sector doesn’t have the resources to end chronic homelessness,” says Schenkelberg, “we rely on the government to provide housing vouchers to people and other kinds of income support — and those are tax dollars.”

dsutton@deseretnews.com | Twitter: @debylene

Here is a great talk on charity..............

Below are some more pictures of Paul Anderson through various stages of his life as an Olympic medalist and strongman who raised funds for his orphanage.

  1. Paul Anderson

Monday, October 27, 2014

Giants of Iceland

Here is a great film. It takes about 20 minutes to watch, but if you are a strength enthusiast, it's worth the time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Genetics Does Not Determine Destiny

Exercise and a good diet go along ways toward good health.

We have posted discussions in the past examining the nature vs. nurture argument as it pertains to athletic achievement.
The conclusion seems to be that while both are factors, we have control over much of our physical destiny. Below is another article that looks at the factors in heart disease. It makes the point that while some factors in heart disease are likely inherited, actual heart attacks are not inevitable if good health habits are followed. It's always good to realize that we can control a great deal of our well-being.

MURRAY — Many traits are genetic, but researchers at Intermountain Medical Center have discovered that a propensity for heart attacks isn't something that is passed through the generations.

Using the Intermountain Genealogy Registry, which contains the information of 23 million individuals within extended family pedigrees, Intermountain Heart Institute's director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology Benjamin Horne found that heart attacks don't have a strong genetic link in families, but are more commonly a result of lifestyle choices and environmental factors.

"Heart attacks are not necessarily clustering in families. They can hit anybody with coronary disease," Horne said. "There are behaviors and choices that people can make to reduce that risk."

Coronary artery disease, however, can be inherited, he said, but it is now known that having it doesn't mean heart attacks are inevitable.

The discovery may also help guide physicians and researchers to look at risk factors for heart attacks that result from a person's choices rather than genetics.

"A person's risk for heart attack is certainly compounded by their lifestyle," Horne said, adding that genes — specifically a person's blood type — do make up a portion of their risk level, but other factors are necessary for a heart attack to occur.

Years ago, researchers discovered that people with B blood type have the highest risk for heart attacks, while blood type A people have intermediate risk and type O carriers have the lowest risk.

Horne said that although blood type can be a factor, the latest finding keeps a focus on lifestyle choices. Other risk factors include age, diabetes, high levels of systemic inflammation, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Environmental factors that have been found to increase a person's risk for heart attack include acute infections and air pollution, both of which Horne said can largely be avoided.

Medications can help to minimize the risk of a heart attack, but they must be taken as prescribed to have an effect, he said.

"People need to make good choices and have a healthy lifestyle," Horne said, adding that a healthy diet and regular physical activity can have the greatest effect on a person's health and lower the risk of heart attack.

"It is important to understand it is not a forgone conclusion once you get coronary disease," he said, adding that the illness should be monitored by a physician.

"Coronary disease can cause chest pain and a variety of symptoms that are uncomfortable, but treatable. Having a heart attack, the heart muscle dies and you don't get that back," he said.

If survived, heart attacks can also lead to other problems, including arrhythmias and heart failure, which can be fatal.

"Avoiding a heart attack is a crucial step in persevering health, even in people who have coronary disease," Horne said.

And once a heart attack occurs, he said, "every minute counts."

Horne specializes in heart disease research, involving genetic studies. His work has lead to many discoveries over the years, helping science narrow in ways to prevent problems and protect a person's heart. He said researchers might also benefit from the latest news, as it can help guide future studies to identify the limited set of genetic mutations that are involved in predisposing a person to heart attacks.
The study's findings, presented Monday at the national conference of the American Society of Human Genetics in San Diego, would not have been possible without Intermountain's extensive database of genetic and medical information, which has been collected from patients and data that is publicly available. It was funded by the Intermountain Research and Medical Foundation.

"These resources help us find new knowledge that has widespread, worldwide relevance in helping people avoid health risks and improve their quality of life," Horne said.


Email: wleonard@deseretnews.com, Twitter: wendyleonards

Starting young and maintaining fitness throughout the life span is the best approach.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


It's amazing how we can get so hysterical about whatever the news publicizes, all the while ignoring the obvious in front of us. This is what you might call sitting on a whale, fishing for minnows. Sure Ebola is scary as the survival rate is under 10%. In Western Africa, where resources are scarce, it's wiping out whole villages. Here in the United States we cannot be complacent. But it is ironic that there is so much hype over a disease that has victims that can be counted on one hand, while we are killing ourselves in epidemic numbers with preventable diseases that are a result of poor lifestyle choices made possible by our prosperity.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Intensity Matters

Intensity is the most important factor in progress.

This says what I have always believed and practiced.....Intensity is the most important factor in a workout. Of course these examples have more to do with the "cardio" and calorie burning goals, I also propose that it applies to resistance training as well. First though, I will make it clear that I am not against lower intensity work. It has it's  place if you are working out to relieve stress or just get some movement in. It has it's benefits.
But if your goal is maximum results in whether in cardio-vascular fitness, body composition, or strength and power; then maximum effort is essential. The Planet Fitness approach (  http://www.t-nation.com/opinion/planet-fitness-nightmare ) just won't get you there. As the article below points out, there are different ways of using high intensity exercise. If you are not getting the results you want, look at your intensity.
I remember years ago attending a seminar with Angel Spassov, a Bulgarian coach. He stated that intensity, not volume,  is the determining factor of success. Intensity in this case refers to the weight on the bar and how close it is to your maximum. The traditional Bulgarian way was to take it to the maximum in almost every session.Of course as the years went by we found out that not everything he so authoritatively  told us was true. (Like the Stepups thing) But my own experience supports his views on intensity. Go hard or go home.  http://www.t-nation.com/powerful-words/the-effort-factor

Want to boost your metabolism and burn fat faster? Amp up your intensity to increase your EPOC, or excess postexercise oxygen consumption. EPOC represents the energy required to recover from exercise, says Chris Scott, PhD, exercise physiologist at the University of Southern Maine Human Performance Laboratory (Portland). “When exercise ends, it takes time and energy for muscle cells to return to resting levels. Recovery can also be expensive: Depleted glucose and fat stores need to be refilled, accumu­lated cell products need to be removed and protein levels need to be built back up. All this requires energy.” And the more rebuilding to be done, the greater the rate of EPOC, which in turn means more calories (using fatty tissue as fuel) are being burned after your workout.

While the primary factor in determining EPOC is exercise intensity, says Scott, so is duration — just not to the same extent. Numerous studies support this idea, such as a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study done by Cedarville University (Ohio) researchers. When women performed either a weight-training or a cardio session, both of which burned the same amount of calories and were similar in intensity, the subjects experienced similar EPOC responses.

It’s well known that lower-intensity aerobic exercise burns fat, but that doesn’t mean your workouts should be a walk in the park. “Intense exercise is associated with a tremendous amount of fat breakdown,” says Scott. “The higher the exercise intensity, the greater the amount of carbohydrate burned. But the energy requirements of recovery, especially an active recovery, need to be considered. To be sure, muscle uses mostly carbs during weight training, but all the fat that’s broken down during exercise is subsequently used to fuel recovery. EPOC primarily depends on fat and lactic acid as fuel. In fact, the recovery from EPOC is almost all aerobic and a terrific oxidizer of fat.”

That said, the programs featured here vary in level of intensity and duration but all have a high EPOC. Whatever your preference, there’s a workout geared to you.

EPOC PROGRAM 1: Keep Up the Tempo

Run, walk or bike at a steady pace that has you working at 80%–90% of your maximum heart rate (MHR) or 6–7 intensity rating. (To calculate your MHR, subtract your age from 220; see “What Is Intensity Rating?” on page 3.)

Duration: 30–60 minutes

Intensity: High (6–7 intensity rating)

Why it works: University of New Hampshire (Durham) researchers examined the effects of constant walking at 70% intensity on a treadmill for 20, 40 and 60 minutes with three hours of recovery. While EPOC was elevated in each of the three trials as compared to the control, it was significantly higher after the 60-minute bout of exercise. More specifically, the 60-minute-duration EPOC measurement was approximately twice that of the 20- and 40-minute durations.

EPOC PROGRAM 2: Slow and Steady

Go the distance doing the activity you like — biking, running, walking — at a light to moderate pace.

Duration: 60–80 minutes

Intensity: Light to moderate (about 3 intensity rating)

Why it works: Researchers at the Laboratory of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at Nakamura Gakuen University (Fukuoka, Japan) examined the EPOC effects after moderate exercise. Subjects performed 30 or 60 minutes of exercise on separate days of 60% VO2 max, which equates to about 70%–75% MHR. Results indicated that longer-duration exercise results in a greater and longer EPOC. More specifically, EPOC lasted for 116 minutes after the 60-minute bout compared to 46 minutes for the 30-minute workout.

In a separate study, University of Victoria (Canada) researchers found similar results and concluded that increasing work time elevates energy cost during and after exercise.

EPOC PROGRAM 3: Cross-Train

Can’t commit to just one activity? With this workout, you don’t have to. Mix up your cardio activities by doing 2–4 bouts of high-intensity exercise that are 15–20 minutes each. Or switch between weight training and cardio, but keep the intensity high. Rest up to five minutes between each bout, or walking to your next machine will do.

Duration: 30–80 minutes

Intensity: High (6–7 intensity rating)

Why it works: Want to save time in the gym? Researchers at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) found that workouts in which resistance training followed aerobic activity exhibited greater EPOC than workouts that are resistance only, running only or resistance training followed by running.

EPOC PROGRAM 4: Supramaximal Interval Training

Think 15–20 one-minute all-out sprints with 2–5-minute walks in between.

Duration: 60–80 minutes

Intensity: High (7–9 intensity rating)

Why it works: When researchers at the Flinders University of South Australia (Adelaide) compared continuous running for 30 minutes at 70% VO2 max (about 80% MHR) and interval running of 20 one-minute intervals at 105% VO2 max (100%-plus MHR) with two-minute rest periods, the latter was the EPOC winner. The supramaximal interval training had double the EPOC levels as its continuous-exercise counterpart. In another study, Norwegian scientists found that supramaximal training of three two-minute bouts of exercise followed by three-minute rest periods produced EPOC for up to four hours.

EPOC PROGRAM 5: Circuit Training

Perform one weight-training exercise per bodypart at 20 reps per minute (slow and controlled on both the up and down portions of the rep) with a weight load that’s 60% of your one-rep max. Run to each station and complete the circuit three times, resting only 20 seconds between each. Circuit: Leg press, biceps curl, bench press, triceps pulldown, lat pulldown, crunch, lateral raise.

Duration: 30 minutes

Intensity: Moderate to high (4–7 intensity rating)

Why it works: Circuit training that consists of three sets of eight exercises resulted in a higher EPOC within 30 minutes of exercising as compared to an equivalent-intensity treadmill workout, according to researchers at Shippensburg University (Pennsylvania) in the journal European Journal of Applied Physiology. The duration of your resting period may also impact your EPOC after circuit training, say Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond) researchers. They found that a higher EPOC occurred when subjects rested 20 seconds between circuits than when they took 60-second rest periods.

What is Intensity Rating?

How to gauge your exercise intensity

Besides heart rate and the amount of oxygen you consume during exercise (VO2 max), determining your exertion is as easy as quantifying it with an Intensity Rating. No fancy watches or lab appointments are necessary; perceived exertion is simply how hard you feel your body is working based on the physical sensations you experience —increased heart rate, breathing rate, sweating and muscle fatigue. Although this is a subjective measure, your exertion rating can provide a fairly good estimate of your actual heart rate during physical activity. This allows you to adjust the intensity (and, as a result, improve the benefits) of your workout.

How to use the Intensity Rating Scale

During your workout, rate your perception of exertion. It should reflect how heavy and strenuous the exercise feels, combining all sensations of physical stress, effort and fatigue. Don’t concentrate on any one factor, such as leg pain or shortness of breath, but try to focus on your total feeling of exertion.

Use the scale below as your guide.

It ranges from 1 to 10, where 1 means no exertion at all and 10 means maximal exertion. Choose the number that best describes your level of exertion. This will give you a good idea of the intensity level of your activity, and you can use this data to speed up or slow down your movements to reach your desired range.

Most important, concentrate on how you feel instead of what the actual workout load is. If you get hung up on numbers, time, weight or your treadmill neighbor, you won’t be able to get an honest assessment.

Intensity is essential.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Exercise Beats Depression

Heavy exercise allows us to control our thoughts and feelings.

Yet another benefit of exercise. Most of us already have felt these effects and don't need a research with mice to confirm the fact that exercise is the best way to deal with depression. the nice thing, however, is that it demonstrates the physiological mechanisms of how it happens. The take home message, besides the fact that exercise is great medicine for a variety of issues, is that the mind and body are not separate, distinct, or mutually exclusive entities.  So called mental or emotional processes have a physiological basis. When learning a new concept or feeling an emotion, physical processes occur and make changes in our brains. Movement or exercise also make changes that can allow us to positively control this process. What a powerful and empowering concept!

Well conditioned muscles make it easier for the body to purge a harmful protein associated with depression, a new study in mice suggests.

“If you consistently exercise and your muscle is conditioned and adapted to physical exercise, then you acquire the ability to express this class of enzymes that have the ability to detoxify something that accumulates during stress and that will be harmful for you,” senior study author Dr. Jorge Ruas of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm said in a telephone interview with Reuters Health.

The body metabolizes this substance, kynurenine, from tryptophan, a process that is activated by stress and by inflammatory factors, Dr. Ruas and his team explain in their report, published in Cell. Studies have linked high levels of kynurenine - which readily crosses the blood-brain barrier - to depression, suicide and schizophrenia.

Their new study was done in skeletal muscle-PGC-1alpha1 transgenic mice, which were genetically modified to express high levels of this protein in their muscles, mimicking the effects of aerobic muscle conditioning. The researchers subjected these mice, as well as a control group of wild-type mice, to five weeks of mild stress. The normal mice developed signs of depression, but the PGC-1alpha1 mice didn’t.

In addition to higher levels of kynurenine in their blood, the transgenic mice also had higher levels of KAT enzymes, which convert kynurenine into kynurenic acid, a more easily mebabolized form that can’t cross the blood-brain barrier.

When the researchers directly administered kynurenine to the PGC-1alpha1 mice, their blood levels of the substance did not increase, because the KAT enzymes were able to break it down so quickly. However, giving kynurenine to the wild-type mice increased their blood levels of the chemical, and also caused depressive symptoms.

To ensure that the findings in mice would apply to people, the researchers recruited a group of adult volunteers to participate in three weeks of moderate exercise. At the end of the exercise program, the volunteers had more PGC-1alpha1 and KAT enzymes in their muscle.

Dr. Ruas and his colleagues are now planning a study in people with depression who have been prescribed physical exercise as therapy. The study would investigate how much patients actually exercised, whether the physical activity was helpful in treating their depression, and also the correlation among exercise, depression and kynurenine levels.

Clinicians can use the findings to help their patients understand why physical activity can fight off depression, Dr. Ruas said, which may improve their compliance with exercise recommendations.

Yuliya Kalina Yuliya Kalina of Ukraine reacts during the Women's 58kg Weightlifting on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on July 30, 2012 in London, England.
It's hard not to be happy after a great lift.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lift weights, improve your memory

As the years pass, I find my "forgetter" is working better and better even while the rest of my body is deteriorating. It is no surprise that exercise and weight training in particular makes the mind sharper. While I appreciate this study and even more so, the attention it is generating, it has the weakness of many weight training studies in my opinion. This included short duration (usually the length of a college semester), limited subjects ( usually college freshmen), and really limited exercise prescription (usually single joint exercises that require little or no teaching). Given these very common and widespread limitations, much research has very limited application to real life situations.
This is no exception, but the evidence it gives along with the personal experiences of many of us who have a lifting lifestyle, is encouraging and worth promoting. Just imagine what the benefits of an ongoing, lifelong habit of full body lifts can do. Just another great reason to keep lifting and help others to do so correctly.
Links to the two original articles are below the video.



Friday, October 3, 2014

Pyrros Dimas the boss Training at 7 YEARS OLD - Πυρρος Δημας

A couple of videos of one of the most explosive lifters of all time. Certainly not a textbook technician, but certainly very effective at winning gold medals and setting world records. The first video claims he is 7 years old. I suspect something was lost in the translation as he appears closer to 17 than 7. Whatever the age though, he is quite young and it gives us a nice look at his foundational training and how years of training can transform one.